Abnormal blood lipid levels: Blood lipids are fats in the blood and include cholesterol and triglycerides. Usually, high levels can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis – a build-up of fatty deposits in the blood vessels that can lead to the development of cardiovascular diseases. Also known as dyslipidaemia.

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander: A person who identifies themselves as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin. See also Indigenous

Accessibility/ Remoteness Index of Australia: Classification of the level of accessibility to goods and services (such as to general practitioners, hospitals and specialist care) based on proximity to these services (measured by road distance).

acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS): A syndrome caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). If HIV is untreated, the body’s immune system is damaged and is unable to fight infections and cancer.

active travel: The process of being physically active to make a journey. Common forms of active travel are walking and cycling.

acute: A term used to describe something that comes on sharply and is often brief, intense and severe.

acute care: Care provided to patients admitted to hospital that is intended to cure illness, alleviate symptoms of illness or manage childbirth.

acute coronary event: An umbrella term that is used to describe sudden and life-threatening conditions that result in reduced blood flow to the heart. The term includes acute myocardial infarction (sometimes referred to as heart attack), unstable angina, and deaths due to acute coronary heart disease.

acute myocardial infarction: Life-threatening emergency that occurs when a vessel supplying blood to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked completely by a blood clot.

additional diagnosis: Conditions or complaints, either coexisting with the principal diagnosis or arising during the episode of admitted patient care (hospitalisation), episode of residential care or attendance at a health-care establishment that require the provision of care. Multiple diagnoses may be recorded.

adequate consumption of fruit and vegetables: A balanced diet, including sufficient fruit and vegetables, reduces a person's risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. The National Health and Medical Research Council's 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend a minimum number of serves of fruit and vegetables each day, depending on a person's age and sex, to ensure good nutrition and health.

adenocarcinoma: A cancer that began in a glandular epithelial cell (see epithelium).

adenoma (adenomatous polyp): A benign tumour that arises from epithelial cells. All adenomas have malignant potential. Adenomas in the rectum or colon have a higher chance of developing into cancer (adenocarcinoma) than adenomas in most other organs. Adenoma can be classified from highest risk (advanced) to lowest risk.

admission: An admission to hospital. Within the relevant topic summaries, the term hospitalisation is used to describe an episode of hospital care that starts with the formal admission process and ends with the formal separation process. The number of separations has been taken as the number of admissions; hence, the admission rate is the same as the separation rate.

admitted care (mental health): A specialised mental health service that provides overnight care in a psychiatric hospital or a specialised mental health unit in an acute hospital. Psychiatric hospitals and specialised mental health units in acute hospitals are establishments devoted primarily to the treatment and care of admitted patients with psychiatric, mental or behavioural disorders. These services are staffed by health professionals with specialist mental health qualifications or training and have as their principal function the treatment and care of patients affected by mental disorder/ illness.

admitted patient: A patient who undergoes a hospital's formal admission process.

age-specific rate: Rate for a specific age group. The numerator and denominator relate to the same age group.

age-standardisation: Method to remove the influence of age when comparing rates between population groups with different age structure. This is used as the rate of many diseases vary strongly (usually increasing) with age, and so too can service use, for example, hospitalisations – a population group with an older age structure will likely have more hospitalisations. The age structures of different populations are converted to the same ‘standard’ structure, and then the relevant rates, such as hospitalisations, that would have occurred within that structure are calculated and compared.

age-standardised rates: are incidence, or prevalence rates that enable comparisons to be made between populations that have different age structures. The age structures of the different populations are converted to the same 'standard' structure, and then the rates that would have occurred with that structure are calculated and compared. Rates can be expressed in many ways, examples, per 100,000 per population years, per 100,000 population and per 1,000 population.

age structure: The relative number and percentage of people in each age group in a population.

air pollutants: Pollutants that include ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM10 or 2.5), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and biological allergens.

alcohol-induced deaths: Deaths that can be directly attributable to alcohol use, as determined by toxicology and pathology reports.

alcohol consumption: The average annual consumption of pure alcohol in litres, per person aged 15 and over.

allergic rhinitis: A bodily response triggered by an allergic reaction. The symptoms may include a runny or blocked nose and/or sneezing and watery eyes. Also known as ‘hay fever’.

allied health: A range of services provided by university qualified health practitioners with specialised expertise in preventing, diagnosing and treating a range of conditions and illnesses. The practitioners have autonomy of practice, a defined scope of practice, a regulatory mechanism and a national organisation with clearly defined entrance criteria. Examples include psychologists, optometrists and physiotherapists.

allied health professional: A health professional who is not a doctor, nurse, or dentist. Allied health professionals include (but are not limited to) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, chiropractors, occupational therapists, optometrists, osteopaths, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists, sonographers, and speech pathologists.

Alzheimer’s disease: A degenerative brain disease caused by nerve cell death resulting in shrinkage of the brain. A form of dementia.

ambulatory care: A specialised mental health service that provides services to people who are not currently admitted to a mental health admitted or residential service. Services are delivered by health professionals with specialist mental health qualifications or training. Ambulatory mental health services include:

  • community-based crisis assessment and treatment teams
  • day programs
  • mental health outpatient clinics provided by either hospital or community-based services
  • child and adolescent outpatient and community teams
  • social and living skills programs
  • psychogeriatric assessment services
  • hospital-based consultation-liaison and in-reach services to admitted patients in non-psychiatric and hospital emergency settings
  • same-day separations
  • home-based treatment services
  • hospital-based outreach services.

anaemia: A condition in which the body lacks healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.

angina: Temporary chest pain or discomfort when the heart's own blood supply is inadequate to meet extra needs, as in exercise.

ankylosing spondylitis: A seronegative polyarthritis that can progressively stiffen the spine and sacroiliac joints. Strongly associated with the tissue-type antigen HLA B27. AS mainly affects males.

arthritis: A group of disorders for which there is inflammation of the joints – which can then become stiff, painful, swollen or deformed. The 2 main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA): A group of disorders for which there is inflammation of the joints – which can then become stiff, painful, swollen or deformed. The 2 main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

asbestosis: A chronic lung condition that is caused by prolonged exposure to high concentrations of asbestos fibres in the air.

associated cause(s) of death: All causes listed on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, other than the underlying cause of death. They include the immediate cause, any intervening causes, and conditions which contributed to the death but were not related to the disease or condition causing the death. See also cause of death

asymptomatic: Describes being without symptoms.

asthma: A common, chronic inflammatory disease of the air passages that presents as episodes of wheezing, breathlessness and chest tightness due to widespread narrowing of the airways and obstruction of airflow.

at risk of homelessness: A person who is at risk of losing their accommodation or are experiencing one or more factors or triggers that can contribute to homelessness. Risk factors include financial or housing affordability stress, inadequate or inappropriate dwelling conditions, previous accommodation ended, child abuse, family, sexual and domestic violence, and relationship or family breakdown.

attributable burden: The amount of burden that could be reduced if exposure to the risk factor had been avoided.

average length of stay (ALOS): The average number of days spent in hospital for each stay (episode of care) for admitted patients.

avoidable deaths: See potentially avoidable deaths

Australian Dietary Guidelines: Guidelines providing information on the types and amounts of foods, food groups, and dietary patterns that can promote health and wellbeing, reduce the risk of diet related conditions, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol: Guidelines providing advice to keep the risk of harm from alcohol low. The guidelines recommend that healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day. See also lifetime risk (alcohol) and single-occasion risk (alcohol)

Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines: Guidelines outlining the minimum amount of physical activity required for health benefits, and the amount of sedentary time and sedentary recreational screen time in children and young people aged under 12 months to 17 years, adults aged 18–64, and adults aged 65 and over, and for pregnancy.

Australian population: For these topic summaries is the estimated resident population, the official measure of Australia’s population based on the concept of usual residence. It refers to all people, regardless of nationality or citizenship, who usually live in Australia, except foreign diplomatic personnel and their families. It includes usual residents who are overseas for less than 12 months. It excludes overseas visitors who are in Australia for less than 12 months (see ‘overseas migration’ definition below) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, National, state and territory population methodology, 2021).

Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC): Common framework defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for collecting and disseminating geographically classified statistics. The framework was implemented in 1984 and its final release was in 2011. It has been replaced by the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS).

Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Common framework defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for collecting and disseminating geographically classified statistics. It replaced the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) in July 2011.


back problems: A range of conditions related to the bones, joints, connective tissue, muscles and nerves of the back. Back problems are a substantial cause of disability and lost productivity.

bed days: The total number of days for patients who were admitted for an episode of care and who separated during a specified reference period. A patient who is admitted and separated on the same day is allocated one bed day.

biomarker: A measured characteristic that can be used to indicate a health risk factor or condition, for example, vitamin D and iodine.

biopsy: Small sample of tissue that is taken to obtain a definitive diagnosis of an abnormality.

blood cholesterol: Fatty substance produced by the liver and carried by the blood to supply the rest of the body. Its natural function is to supply material for cell walls and for steroid hormones, but if levels in the blood become too high this can lead to atherosclerosis (build-up of fatty deposits in the blood vessels) and heart disease.

blood pressure: The force exerted by the blood on the walls of the arteries as it is pumped around the body by the heart. It is written, for example, as 134/70 mmHg, where the upper number is the systolic pressure (the maximum force against the arteries as the heart muscle contracts to pump the blood out) and the lower number is the diastolic pressure (the minimum force against the arteries as the heart relaxes and fills again with blood). Levels of blood pressure can vary greatly from person to person and from moment to moment in the same person. See also high blood pressure/ hypertension

bodily pain: an indication of the severity of any bodily pain that the respondent had experienced (from any and all causes) during the last 4 weeks.

body mass index (BMI): The most commonly used method of assessing whether a person is healthy weight, underweight, overweight or obese (see obesity). It is calculated by dividing the person’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in metres) squared – that is, kg ÷ m2. For both men and women, underweight is a BMI below 18.5, healthy weight is from 18.5 to less than 25, overweight but not obese is from 25 to less than 30, and obese is 30 and over. Sometimes overweight and obese are combined – defined as a BMI of 25 and over. Height and body composition are continually changing for children and adolescents. A separate classification of overweight and obesity based on age and sex is used for children and adolescents.

bowel cancer: cancer of the colon and rectum, also called colorectal cancer.

bronchiectasis: Abnormal widening of the main air passages (bronchi or their branches), due to chronic inflammation and/or infection. May be acute or chronic.

bronchitis: Inflammation of the main air passages (bronchi). May be acute or chronic.

built environment: The built environment refers to the human-made surroundings where people live, work and recreate. It includes buildings and parks as well as supporting infrastructure such as transport, water and energy networks (Coleman 2017).

burden of disease (and injury): The quantified impact of a disease or injury on a population, using the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) measure. Referred to as the ‘burden’ of the disease or injury in this report.


cancer (malignant neoplasm): Cancer, also called malignancy, is a term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.

cancer incidence: The number or rate of new cases of cancer diagnosed in a population during a given time period.

cancer of secondary site: A cancer that has metastasised (spread) from the place where it first started (primary site) to another part of the body (secondary site). If a secondary cancer is diagnosed but the practitioner is unsure of where it began, the cancer is referred to one of a secondary site or unknown primary cancer

capital expenditure: Spending on large-scale fixed assets (for example, new buildings and equipment) with a useful life extending over several years. Compare with recurrent expenditure.

cardiomyopathy: A condition where there is direct and widespread damage to the heart muscle, weakening it. It can be due to various causes, such as viral infections and severe alcohol abuse. It can lead to an enlarged, thickened and dilated heart as well as heart failure.

cardiovascular disease/ condition: Any disease of the cardiovascular system, namely the heart (cardio) or blood vessels (vascular). Includes angina, heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. Also known as circulatory disease.

carer: Carer refers to people who provide any informal assistance (help or supervision) to people with disability or older people. In the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) for an individual to be considered a carer, the assistance they provide must be ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least 6 months. People who provide formal assistance (on a regular paid basis, usually associated with an organisation) are not considered to be a carer for the purpose of this report. In the ABS SDAC, a carer is either a ‘primary carer’ or an ‘other carer’.

caries: Bacterial disease that causes the demineralisation and decay of teeth and can involve inflammation of the central dental pulp.

cataract: a cloudy area in the lens of the eye that leads to a decrease in vision.

cause of death: The causes of death entered on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death are all diseases, morbid conditions or injuries that either resulted in or contributed to death, and the circumstances of the accident or violence that produced any such injuries. Causes of death are commonly reported by the underlying cause of deathSee also associated cause(s) of death and multiple causes of death

cerebrovascular disease: Any disorder of the blood vessels supplying the brain or its covering membranes. A notable and major form of cerebrovascular disease is stroke.

cervical screening test (CST): Consists of a human papillomavirus (HPV) test with partial genotyping and, if the HPV test detects oncogenic HPV, liquid-based cytology (LBC).

child: A person aged 0–14 unless otherwise stated.

chlamydia: The most common sexually transmissible infection in Australia, caused by Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. It is treatable and may not cause symptoms; however, it can lead to serious illness if untreated. It is a notifiable disease.

cholesterol: See blood cholesterol

chronic: Persistent and long-lasting.

chronic diseases/ conditions: A diverse group of diseases/ conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis, which tend to be long lasting and persistent in their symptoms or development. Although these features also apply to some communicable diseases, the term is usually confined to non-communicable diseases.

chronic kidney disease (CKD): Refers to all conditions of the kidney, lasting at least 3 months, where a person has had evidence of kidney damage and/or reduced kidney function, regardless of the specific cause.

chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Serious, progressive and disabling long-term lung disease where damage to the lungs, usually because of both emphysema and chronic bronchitisobstructs oxygen intake and causes increasing shortness of breath. By far the greatest cause is cigarette smoking.

chronic sinusitis: The inflammation of the lining of one or more sinuses (large air cavities inside the face bones). It occurs when normal draining of the sinuses is obstructed by swelling, excessive mucus or an abnormality in the structure of the sinuses.

circulatory disease: Alternative name for cardiovascular disease.

colorectal cancer: This disease comprises cancer of the colon and cancer of the rectum, also called bowel cancer.

colonoscopy: A procedure to examine the bowel using a special scope (colonoscope) usually carried out in a hospital or day clinic.

communicable disease: An infectious disease or illness that may be passed directly or indirectly from one person to another.

comorbidity: Defined in relation to an index disease/ condition, comorbidity describes any additional disease that is experienced by a person while they have the index disease. The index and comorbid disease/ condition will change depending on the focus of the study. Compare with multimorbidity.

condition (health condition): A broad term that can be applied to any health problem, including symptoms, diseases and various risk factors (such as high blood cholesterol, and obesity). Often used synonymously with disorder.

conductive hearing loss: A deviation of hearing threshold from the normal range associated with reduced conduction of sound through the outer ear, tympanic membrane (eardrum) or middle ear, including the ossicles (middle ear bones).

confidence interval: A range determined by variability in data, within which there is a specified (usually 95%) chance that the true value of a calculated parameter lies.

confidence range: A range that indicates the uncertainty of an estimate from data analysis. A 95% confidence interval is a range of values that contain the true value with 95% confidence.

confirmed case of COVID-19: A COVID-19 infection confirmed by a laboratory.

congenital: A condition that is recognised at birth, or is believed to have been present since birth, including conditions inherited or caused by environmental factors.

controlled high blood pressure: Normal blood pressure reading and taking blood pressure medication.

co-payment: The amount the patient pays towards the cost of a Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) or Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) subsidised medicine. Patients have different maximum co-payments based on their level of entitlement and safety net status. This does not take into account brand premiums or pharmacists applying the $1 discount. For under co-payment scripts the amount is based on the dispensed price for the quantity of medicine supplied, but does not account for any additional fees or discounts applied by pharmacies. See the PBS website for current and historical co-payment amounts.

core activity: Term used in discussions of disability that refers to the basic activities of daily living: self-care, mobility and communication.

core activity limitation: A limitation where someone needs help with – or is having difficulty in using aids and equipment for – self-care, mobility and/or communication. See also disability, mild or moderate core activity limitation and severe or profound core activity limitation

coronary bypass: A surgical procedure to restore normal blood flow to the heart muscle by diverting the flow of blood around a section of a blocked artery in the heart.

coronary heart disease: A disease due to blockages in the heart's own (coronary) arteries, expressed as angina or a heart attackAlso known as ischaemic heart disease.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019): An infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

COVID-19 related death: A death where there is a disease or injury pathway to death that is not directly caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Also referred to as deaths with COVID-19.

C-reactive protein (CRP): The measured level of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein.

creatinine: A waste product made by muscles as part of regular activity. It is filtered out of the blood by the kidneys and passed in the urine. A test of the amount of creatinine in blood or in blood and urine indicates functioning of the kidneys.

critical care: The specialised care of patients whose conditions are life-threatening and who require comprehensive care and constant monitoring, usually in intensive care units.

crude rate: A rate derived from the number of events recorded in a population during a specified time period, without adjustments for other factors such as age (see age-standardisation).

current daily smoker: A respondent who reported at the time of interview that they regularly smoked one or more cigarettes, cigars or pipes per day.

current partner: A person with whom the respondent currently (at the time of survey) lives with in a married or de facto relationship.

current prices: Expenditures reported for a particular year, unadjusted for inflation. Changes in current price expenditures reflect changes in both price and volume.

Cystic fibrosis: A serious and chronic hereditary disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system, which become obstructed with excessive, thick mucus. Despite great improvements in treatment, life expectancy is markedly reduced, with respiratory complications most prominent.

Cytokines: Small proteins that are released by cells and play a key role in immunity and inflammation.

cytology: Cytology means ‘study of cells’ and, in the context of cervical screening, refers to cells from the cervix that are collected and examined for abnormalities.


DALY: See disability-adjusted life years

data linkage/ linked data: Bringing together (linking) information from 2 or more data sources believed to relate to the same entity, such as the same individual or the same institution. The resulting data set is called linked data.

data literacy: The ability of people to access, understand and apply information about data and data systems so as to make decisions that relate to their health and welfare.

dementia: A term used to describe a group of similar conditions characterised by the gradual impairment of brain function. It is commonly associated with memory loss, but can affect speech, cognition (thought), behaviour and mobility. An individual’s personality may also change, and health and functional ability decline as the condition progresses.

dementia-specific medications: Prescription medications specifically used to treat the symptoms of dementia. There are 4 dementia-specific medications – Donepezil, Galantamine, Rivastigmine and Memantine – currently subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. These medications can be prescribed to patients with a confirmed diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease made by (or in consultation with) a specialist or consultant physician under specific clinical criteria. To continue treatment, patients must demonstrate a clinically meaningful response to the treatment. This may include improvements in the patients’ quality of life, cognitive function and/or behavioural symptoms.

dermatitis: A general term that describes a common skin irritation or inflammation.

determinant: Any factor that can increase the chances of ill health (risk factors) or good health (protective factors) in a population or individual. By convention, services or other programs that aim to improve health are usually not included in this definition.

diabetes (diabetes mellitus): A chronic condition in which the body cannot properly use its main energy source, the sugar glucose. This is due to a relative or absolute deficiency in insulin, a hormone that is produced by the pancreas and helps glucose enter the body's cells from the bloodstream and then be processed by them. Diabetes is marked by an abnormal build-up of glucose in the blood, and it can have serious short- and long-term effects. For the 3 main types of diabetes see type 1 diabetestype 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.

diabetic nephropathy: The kidney damage that results from having diabetes. Also known as diabetic kidney disease.

diabetic retinopathy: A complication of diabetes, caused by damage to the blood vessels in the tissue at the back of the eye. It can lead to vision loss and blindness.

diagnostic imaging: The production of diagnostic images; for example, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, X-rays, ultrasound and nuclear medicine scans.

dialysis: An artificial method of removing waste substances from the blood and regulating levels of circulating chemicals – functions usually performed by the kidneys.

digital health: The electronic management of health information. This includes using technology to collect and share a person’s health information. It can be as simple as a person wearing a device to record how much exercise they do each day, to health care providers sharing clinical notes about an individual.

direct expenditure: Expenditure directly related to the treatment or provision of services for a specific disease. It does not include indirect expenditure, such as travel costs for patients, the social and economic burden on carers and family, and lost wages and productivity.

disability: An umbrella term for any or all of the following: an impairment of body structure or function, a limitation in activities, or a restriction in participation. Disability is a multidimensional concept and is considered as an interaction between health conditions and personal and environmental factors. See also core activity limitation, mild or moderate core activity limitation and severe or profound core activity limitation

disability-adjusted life years (DALY): A measure of the years of healthy life lost, either through premature death or through living with illness due to disease and/or injury. It is a measure used to quantify the burden of disease and injury in a population.

discretionary foods: Foods and drinks not necessary to provide the nutrients the body needs, but which may add variety. Many are high in saturated fats, sugars, salt and/or alcohol, and are energy dense.

disease: A physical or mental disturbance involving symptoms (such as pain or feeling unwell), dysfunction or tissue damage, especially if these symptoms and signs form a recognisable clinical pattern.

disease vector: Living organisms that can transmit infectious diseases between humans or from animals to humans; these are frequently blood sucking insects such as mosquitoes.

disorder (health disorder): A term used synonymously with condition.

domestic violence: A set of violent or intimidating behaviours usually perpetrated by current or former intimate partners, where a partner aims to exert power and control over the other, through fear. Domestic violence can include physical violence, sexual violence, emotional abuse and psychological abuse.

ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): A non-invasive tumour of the mammary gland (breast) arising from cells lining the ducts.

dyspnoea: Shortness of breath or breathlessness.

dyslipidaemia: Out-of-range levels of fats in the blood, such as cholesterol or triglycerides. In the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Health Survey, it has been defined as total cholesterol greater than or equal to 5.5 mmol/L, LDL cholesterol greater than or equal to 3.5 mmol/L, HDL cholesterol less than 1.0 mmol/L in men or less than 1.3 mmol/L in women, triglycerides greater than or equal to 2 mmol/L, or were taking lipid-modifying medication.


e-cigarette: Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are personal vaporising devices, often referred to as vapes, where users inhale vapour rather than smoke. The vapours usually contain flavourings and may contain nicotine or other chemical constituents.

elective surgery: Elective care in which the procedures required by patients are listed in the surgical operations section of the Medicare Benefits Schedule, excluding specific procedures often done by non-surgical clinicians. See also Medicare

emergency department presentation: The presentation of a patient at an emergency department is the earliest occasion of being registered clerically and occurs following the arrival of the patient at the emergency department.

emotional abuse: Behaviours or actions that are perpetrated with the intent to manipulate, control, isolate or intimidate, and which cause emotional harm or fear.

emphysema: A chronic lung disease where over-expansion or destruction of the lung tissue limits oxygen intake, leading to shortness of breath and other problems.

endemic: Regularly found among particular people or in a certain area, with infections occurring at a steady rate without external inputs.

endometriosis: A condition where endometrial-like tissue, similar to the tissue normally found lining the uterus, is found in other parts of the body, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and outside the uterus.

end-stage kidney disease (ESKD): The most severe form of chronic kidney disease (CKD)also known as Stage 5 CKD or kidney failure.

enthesitis-related arthritis (ERA): ERA is a disease that predominantly affects the joints in the spine and lower extremities. There is often a presence HLA B27 antigen, sacroiliac joint tenderness and anterior uveitis.

epilepsy: A common, long-term brain condition where a person has repeated seizures.

epithelium: The tissue lining the outer layer of the body, the digestive tract and other hollow organs and structures.

erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR): Indicative marker of active inflammation in the body.

estimated glomerular filtration rate: A measure of the rate at which the kidneys filter wastes from the blood, considered to be the best measure of kidney function.

estimated resident population (ERP): The official Australian Bureau of Statistics estimate of the Australian population. The ERP is derived from the 5-yearly Census counts and is updated quarterly between each Census. It is based on the usual residence of the person. Rates are calculated per 1,000 or 100,000 mid-year (30 June) ERP.

ex-smoker: A person who has smoked at least 100 cigarettes or equivalent tobacco in his or her lifetime but does not smoke now.

external cause: The environmental event, circumstance or condition that causes injury, poisoning and other adverse effects (for example, road traffic accident).


family violence: Violent or intimidating behaviours against a person, perpetrated by a family member including a current or previous spouse or domestic partner. The preferred term used to identify experiences of violence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as it encompasses the broad range of extended family and kinship relationships in which violence may occur.

fatal burden: Quantified impact on a population of premature death due to disease or injury. Measured as years of life lost (YLL).

Food insecurity: Where individuals or households have limited or uncertain physical, social, or economic access to sufficient, safe, nutritious and culturally relevant food.

foreign body: An object which is left inside the human body which is not meant to be there, for example, surgical instruments.


gastrointestinal: A term relating to the stomach and the intestine.

gastrointestinal infection: An infection that occurs when a micro-organism or its toxic product affects the gastrointestinal tract (including the stomach and intestines) causing illness such as pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and other symptoms. Can usually be passed from person to person.

general practice: General practice includes fully-qualified general practitioners (GPs). Physicians in training are normally excluded.

general practitioner (GP): A medical practitioner who provides primary comprehensive and continuing care to patients and their families in the community.

gender: Gender relates to a person’s social and cultural identity. It is about their experience as a man, woman or non-binary person. Non-binary is a term to describe gender identities that are not exclusively male or female. A person’s gender may stay the same or can change over the course of their lifetime. Transgender is a broad term that can be used to describe people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were thought to be when they were born. See also sex

gestational diabetes: A form of diabetes when higher than optimal blood glucose is first diagnosed during pregnancy (gestation). It may resolve after the baby is born but may recur in subsequent pregnancies and signals a high risk of diabetes occurring in later life.

glomerular filtration rate: The amount of blood the kidneys can clear of waste products in one minute. Usually estimated (estimated glomerular filtration rate) using age, sex and creatinine levels in the blood. See estimated glomerular filtration rate.

glycated haemoglobin: The main biomarker used to assess long-term glucose control in people living with diabetes. Haemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells which can bind with sugar to form HbA1c. It is directly related to blood glucose levels and strongly related with the development of long-term diabetes complications.

gonorrhoeae: A common sexually transmissible infection caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. It is treatable; however, if left untreated, it can lead to serious illness. It is a notifiable disease.

gout: A disease brought on by excess uric acid in the blood, causing attacks of joint pain (most often in the big toe) and other problems.


haematuria: The presence of blood in the urine.

haemorrhage (bleeding): The escape of blood from a ruptured blood vessel, externally or internally.

haemorrhagic stroke: A type of stroke caused by the rupture and subsequent bleeding of an artery in the brain or its surroundings.

HbA1c: see glycated haemoglobin

health: Term relating to whether the body (including the mind) is in a well or ill state. With good health, the state of the body and mind are such that a person feels and functions well and can continue to do so for as long as possible.

health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE): The average number of years that a person at a specific age can expect to live in full health; that is, taking into account years lived in less than full health due to the health consequences of disease and/or injury.

health and medical research: Research with a health socioeconomic objective, including the prevention of disease, maintenance of health and operation of the health system. It describes a wide range of research activities including laboratory research, public health, epidemiological studies, health services research, clinical research on patient samples as well as clinical trials. It can be conducted in a variety of settings, including tertiary institutions, private non-profit organisations, and government facilities, and is usually approved by a research governance or ethics body.

health indicator: See indicator

health literacy: The ability of people to access, understand and apply information about health and the health care system so as to make decisions that relate to their health.

health outcome: A change in the health of an individual or population due wholly or partly to a preventive or clinical intervention.

health promotion: A broad term to describe activities that help communities and individuals increase control over their health behaviours. Health promotion focuses on addressing and preventing the root causes of ill health, rather than on treatment and cure.

health research: Research with a health socioeconomic objective, which is done in tertiary institutions, private non-profit organisations, and government facilities. It excludes commercially oriented research that private business funds, the costs of which are assumed to be included in the prices charged for the goods and services (for example, medications that have been developed and/or supported by research activities).

health status: The overall level of health of an individual or population, taking into account aspects such as life expectancy, level of disability, levels of disease risk factors and so on.

hearing: The sense for perceiving sounds; includes regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted.

hearing loss: Any hearing threshold response (using audiometry – the testing of a person’s ability to hear various sound frequencies) outside the normal range, to any sound stimuli, in either ear. Hearing loss in a population describes the number of people who have abnormal hearing. Hearing loss may affect one ear (unilateral) or both ears (bilateral).

heart attack: Life-threatening emergency that occurs when a vessel supplying blood to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked completely by a blood clot. The medical term commonly used for a heart attack is myocardial infarctionSee also acute myocardial infarction and cardiovascular disease

heart failure: When the heart functions less effectively in pumping blood around the body. It can result from a wide variety of diseases and conditions that can impair or overload the heart, such as heart attack, other conditions that damage the heart muscle directly (see cardiomyopathy), high blood pressureor a damaged heart valve.

hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver, which can be due to certain viral infections, alcohol excess or a range of other causes.

high blood cholesterol: Total cholesterol levels above 5.5 mmol/L.

high blood pressure/ hypertension: Definitions can vary. The Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey 2017–18 measured blood pressure at the time of the interview. High blood pressure was defined as any of the following: systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mmHg, or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90 mmHg or receiving medication for high blood pressure. Note that this only refers to the measurement at the time of the interview and does not necessarily indicate a chronic condition. For this survey, this is distinguished from Hypertension which was self-reported as a long-term health condition.

histology: The examination of tissue through a microscope, the microscopic characteristics of cellular structure and composition of tissue.

histopathology: The examination of tissue through a microscope, the microscopic characteristics of cellular structure and composition of tissue and associated disease.

HIV: Human Immunodeficiency Virus. See acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)

homelessness: There is no single definition of homelessness.

The Specialist Homelessness Services Collection defines a person as homeless if they are living in either:

  • non-conventional accommodation or sleeping rough (such as living on the street)
  • short-term or emergency accommodation due to a lack of other options (such as living temporarily with friends and relatives).

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines homelessness, for the purposes of the Census of Population and Housing, as the lack of one or more of the elements that represent home. According to the ABS, when a person does not have suitable accommodation alternatives they are considered homeless if their current living arrangement:

  • is in a dwelling that is inadequate
  • has no tenure, or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable
  • does not allow them to have control of and access to space for social relations.

hospital-acquired complications: A complication for which clinical action may reduce (but not necessarily eliminate) the risk of its occurring – for example, selected infections or pressure injuries.

hospitalisation: An episode of hospital care that starts with the formal admission process and ends with the formal separation process (synonymous with admission and separation). An episode of care can be completed by the patient’s being discharged, being transferred to another hospital or care facility, or dying, or by a portion of a hospital stay starting or ending in a change of type of care (for example, from acute to rehabilitation).

hospital non-specialist: A subset of medical practitioners that includes doctors in training as interns and resident medical officers, career medical officers, hospital medical officers and other salaried hospital doctors who are not specialists or in recognised training programs to become specialists.

hospital services: Services provided to a patient who is receiving admitted patient services or non-admitted patient services in a hospital, but excluding community health services, health research done within the hospital, non-admitted dental services, patient transport services and public health activities. They can include services provided off site, such as dialysis or hospital in the home.

Human leukocyte antigens (HLA) B27: A set of proteins, called antigens, that are present on the surface of white blood cells fighting infection. Auto-immune diseases, including ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis and Crohn’s disease, are associated with the presence of HLA-B27 antigens when tested.

Human papillomavirus (HPV): A virus that affects both males and females. There are around 100 types of HPV, with around 40 types known as ‘genital HPV’, which are contracted through sexual contact. Currently, 15 types of HPV are recognised as being associated with cervical cancer, the most common of which are types 16, 18, and 45. Persistent infection with oncogenic (cancer causing) HPV types can lead to cervical cancer, whereas infection with non-oncogenic types of HPV can cause genital warts.

hypertension: See high blood pressure/ hypertension


illicit drugs: Illegal drugs, drugs and volatile substances used illicitly, and pharmaceuticals used for non-medical purposes.

illicit drug use: Includes use of:

  • any drug that is illegal to possess or use
  • any legal drug used in an illegal manner, such as:
    • a drug obtained on prescription, but given or sold to another person to use
    • glue or petrol which is sold legally, but is used in a manner that is not intended, such as inhaling fumes
    • stolen pharmaceuticals sold on the black market (such as pethidine)
  • any drug used for ‘non-medical purposes’, which means drugs used:
    • either alone or with other drugs to induce or enhance a drug experience
    • for performance enhancement (for example, athletic)
    • for cosmetic purposes (for example, body shaping).

illness: A state of feeling unwell, although the term is also often used synonymously with disease.

imaging: See diagnostic imaging

immunisation: A procedure designed to induce immunity against infection by using an antigen to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies. See also vaccination

immunisation coverage rate: The percentage of children registered on the Australian Immunisation Register who have had all the vaccines recommended for their age in the National Immunisation Program Schedule.

Immunochemical faecal occult blood test (iFOBT): A test used to detect tiny traces of blood in a persons’ faeces that may be a sign of bowel cancer. The iFOBT is a central part of Australia’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

Impaired fasting glucose: The presence of higher than usual levels of glucose in the blood after fasting, in the range of 6.1 to 6.9 mmol/L but less than diabetes levels (at least 7.0 mmol/L).

impairment: Any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function.

incidence: The number of new cases (of an illness or event, and so on) occurring during a given period. Compare with prevalence.

in situ: A Latin term meaning in place or position; undisturbed. A tumour that has not invaded surrounding tissue but in some people or conditions could undergo further change and become invasive. Some authorities call this non-invasive cancer while others say that it is not cancer.

Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage (IRSD): One of the sets of Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas for ranking the average socioeconomic conditions of the population in an area. It summarises attributes of the population such as low income, low educational attainment, high unemployment and jobs in relatively unskilled occupations.

Index of Relative Socio-economic Advantage and Disadvantage (IRSAD): 1 of 4 Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) compiled by the ABS. The IRSAD has been used in this report to indicate socioeconomic position for 5 groups (quintiles) – from the most disadvantaged (worst off or lowest socioeconomic area) to the most advantaged (best off or highest socioeconomic area).

indicator: A key statistical measure selected to help describe (indicate) a situation concisely so as to track change, progress and performance; and to act as a guide for decision making.

Indigenous: A person who identifies themselves as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin.

Indigenous status: A term used to describe whether or not a person identifies as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin.

infant: A child aged under 1 year.

infant mortality: The number of deaths of children under 1 year of age in a given year, expressed per 1,000 live births. While some countries (including Australia and Canada) register all live births including very small babies with low odds of survival, several countries apply a minimum threshold of a gestation period of 22 weeks (or a birth weight threshold of 500 g) for babies to be registered as live births.

infectious disease: A disease or illness caused by an infectious agent (bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi and their toxic products). Many infectious diseases are also communicable diseases.

inflammation: Heat, swelling and pain. Can also occur when there is no clear external cause and the body reacts against itself, as in auto-immune diseases.

influenza (flu): An acute contagious viral respiratory infection marked by fevers, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, cough and sore throat.

injury cases: Estimated as the number of injury separations, less those records where the mode of admission was ‘Admitted patient transferred from another hospital’. These transfers are omitted to reduce over-counting.

insulin: Hormone produced by the pancreas which regulates the body’s energy sources, most notably the sugar glucose. It is an injectable agent that helps lower blood glucose levels by moving glucose into cells to be used as energy.

International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD): The World Health Organization’s internationally accepted classification of death and disease. The 10th Revision (ICD-10) is currently in use. The ICD-10-AM is the Australian Modification of the ICD-10; it is used for diagnoses and procedures recorded for patients admitted to hospitals.

interoperability: The ability of different information systems, devices and applications (‘systems’) to access, exchange, integrate and cooperatively use data in a coordinated manner.

interstitial lung disease: An umbrella term used for a large group of diseases that cause scarring (fibrosis) of the lungs. The scarring causes stiffness in the lungs which makes it difficult to breathe and get oxygen to the bloodstream.

interstitial nephritis: A health condition where there is inflammation around parts of the kidneys’ filters (tubules), reducing their ability to filter properly.

interval cancer: A cancer diagnosed within the screening interval period after a negative (or a negative or inconclusive) screening test result.

intervention (for health): Any action taken by society or an individual that ‘steps in’ (intervenes) to improve health, such as medical treatment and preventive campaigns.

intimate partner violence: Violent or intimidating behaviours perpetrated by a current or cohabiting partner, boyfriend, girlfriend or date. See also domestic violence

invasive: A tumour with the capacity to spread to surrounding tissue or to other sites in the body. Also called malignant.

ischaemia: Reduced or blocked blood supply. See also ischaemic heart disease

ischaemic heart disease: Also heart attack and angina (chest pain). Also known as coronary heart diseaseSee also ischaemia

ischaemic stroke: A type of stroke due to a reduced or blocked supply of blood in the brain. Also known as cerebral infarction.


juvenile arthritis: Inflammatory arthritis in children that begins before their 16th birthday and lasts at least 6 weeks. Also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis.


Kessler Psychological Distress Scale – 10 items (Kessler-10; K10): A survey device that is used to measure non-specific psychological distress in people. It uses 10 questions about negative emotional states that participants in the survey may have had in the 4 weeks leading up to their interview. The designers recommend using only for people aged 18 and over.

kidney failure: The most severe form of chronic kidney disease (CKD), also known as Stage 5 CKD or end-stage kidney stage (ESKD).

kidney replacement therapy: Having a functional kidney transplant or receiving regular dialysis.

kidney transplant: A healthy kidney is taken from one person and surgically placed into someone with kidney failure. The kidney can come from a live or deceased donor.


Leukaemia: A cancer which affects the white blood cells.

labour force: People who are employed or unemployed (not employed but actively looking for work). Also known as the workforce.

life expectancy: The average number of years that a person at a particular age can be expected to live, assuming age-specific mortality levels remain constant.

lifetime risk (alcohol): The accumulated risk from drinking either on many drinking occasions, or on a regular (for example, daily) basis over a lifetime. The lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury increases with the amount consumed. See also Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol

linked disease: A disease or condition on the causal pathway of the risk factors, and therefore more likely to develop if exposed to the risk.

lipids: Fatty substances, including cholesterol and triglycerides, which are in blood and body tissues.

long-term care: Consists of a range of medical, personal care and assistance services that are provided with the primary goal of alleviating pain and reducing or managing the deterioration in health status for people with a degree of long-term dependency, assisting them with their personal care (through help for activities of daily living such as eating, washing and dressing) and assisting them to live independently (through help for instrumental activities of daily living such as cooking, shopping and managing finances).

long-term care recipients at home: People receiving formal (paid) long-term care at home. The services received by long-term care recipients can be publicly or privately financed. Long-term care at home is provided to people with functional restrictions who mainly reside at their own home. It also applies to the use of institutions on a temporary basis to support continued living at home – such as in the case of community care and day care centres and in the case of respite care. Home care also includes specially designed or adapted living arrangements for persons who require help on a regular basis while guaranteeing a high degree of autonomy and self-control.

long-term care recipients in institutions (other than hospitals): People receiving formal (paid) long-term care in institutions (other than hospitals). The services received by long-term care recipients can be financed publicly or privately.

long-term condition: A term used in the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Surveys to describe a health condition that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 6 months. See also chronic diseases/ conditions

low-income household: A household with an equivalised disposable household income (that is, after-tax income, adjusted for the number of people in the household) that is less than 50% of the national median.

lymph node: A mass of lymphatic tissue, often bean-shaped, that produces adaptive immune system cells and through which lymphatic fluid filters. These nodes are located throughout the body.


malignant: A tumour with the capacity to spread to surrounding tissue or to other sites in the body. See neoplasms

mammogram: An X-ray of the breast. It may be used to assess a breast lump or as a screening test in women with no evidence of cancer.

mandate: An official order.

margin of error: The largest possible difference (due to sampling error) that could exist between the estimate and what would have been produced had all persons been included in the survey, at a given level of confidence (commonly 95%). It is useful for understanding and comparing the accuracy of proportion estimates. Equivalent to the width of a confidence interval.

median: Is based on the value(s) of the observation(s) at the midpoint of a list of observations ranked from the smallest to the largest.

median age: The age point at which half the population is older than that age and half is younger than that age.

medical practitioner: Under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009, a medical practitioner is a person who holds registration with the Medical Board of Australia.

medical specialist: A doctor who has completed advanced education and clinical training in a specific area of medicine.

Medicare: A national, government-funded scheme that subsidises the cost of personal medical services for all Australians and aims to help them afford medical care. The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) is the listing of the Medicare services subsidised by the Australian Government. The schedule is part of the wider Medicare Benefits Scheme (Medicare).

Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) data collection: The MBS data collection contains information on services that qualify for a benefit under the Health Insurance Act 1973 and for which a claim has been processed. The database comprises information about MBS claims (including benefits paid), patients and service providers. MBS claims data is an administrative by-product of the Services Australia administration of the Medicare fee-for-service payment system. See also Medicare

Medicare levy: A 2% tax on taxable income charged to fund Medicare. The Medicare levy is reduced if taxable income is below a certain threshold.

Medicare levy surcharge: A levy paid by Australian taxpayers who do not have private hospital cover and who earn above a certain income. See also Medicare

Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services: Services provided by psychiatrists, general practitioners, psychologists and other allied health professionals. These services are provided in a range of settings – for example, hospitals, consulting rooms, home visits, telephone and videoconferencing – as defined in the Medicare Benefits Schedule. See also Medicare

Medicare-subsidised services: Refer to services listed in the Medicare Benefits Schedule that resulted in a payment of Medicare benefit. See also Medicare

medications: Benefit-paid pharmaceuticals and other medications. More information can be found in mental health prescriptions section of Mental Health Services in Australia.

melanoma: A cancer of the body’s cells that contain pigment (melanin), mainly affecting the skin. Survival rates are very high for those whose melanoma is detected and removed early, but low if not.

menopause: A natural event experienced by females where the ovaries stop producing an egg each month. This leads to associated changes in hormones in the body and marks the end of a female’s reproductive years.

mental health: A state of wellbeing in which the person realises their own abilities, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and can contribute to the community. Mental health is the capacity of individuals and groups to interact with one another and their environment in ways that promote subjective wellbeing, optimal development and the use of cognitive, affective and relational abilities.

mesothelioma: An aggressive form of cancer occurring in the mesothelium – the protective lining of the body cavities and internal organs, such as the lungs, heart and bowel.

metadata: Information about how data are defined, structured and represented. It makes data files meaningful by describing the information captured in data, and how it is measured and represented.

Metformin: A medication that lowers blood glucose levels by reducing the amount of stored glucose released by the liver, slowing the absorption of glucose from the intestine, and helping the body to become more sensitive to insulin so that it works better.

microbiology: In the pathology context microbiology is the detection of diseases caused by infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.

mild or moderate core activity limitation: The limitation of a person who needs no help but has difficulty with core activities (moderate) or has no difficulty (mild) with core activities, but uses aids or equipment, or has one or more of the following restrictions:

  • cannot easily walk 200 metres
  • cannot walk up and down stairs without a handrail
  • cannot easily bend down to pick up an object from the floor
  • cannot use public transport
  • can use public transport but needs help or supervision
  • needs no help or supervision but has difficulty using public transport.

µg/m3: millionths of a gram of matter per cubic metre of air, water or other fluid.

mixed dementia: Multiple types of dementia affecting the same person. Mixed dementia is common in the population. The most common combination is Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

mobile health: The delivery of health care services via mobile communication devices.

moderate physical activity: Physical activity at a level that causes the heart to beat faster, accompanied by some shortness of breath, but during which a person can still talk comfortably.

monitoring (of public health): A process of keeping a regular and close watch over important aspects of the public’s health and health services through various measurements, and then regularly reporting on the situation, so that the health system and society more generally can plan and respond accordingly. The term is often used interchangeably with surveillance, although surveillance may imply more urgent watching and reporting, such as the surveillance of infectious diseases and their epidemics.

morbidity: The ill health of an individual and levels of ill health in a population or group.

mortality: Number or rate of deaths in a population during a given time period.

mortality rate: Mortality rates are based on numbers of deaths registered in a year divided by the size of the corresponding population.

multimorbidity: The presence of 2 or more chronic diseases/conditions in a person at the same time. Compare with comorbidity.

multiple causes of death: All causes listed on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. These include the underlying cause of death and all associated cause(s) of deathSee also cause of death

musculoskeletal: A term that relates to the muscles, joints and bones.

musculoskeletal condition: One of a group of conditions, along with arthritis and other conditions, that affects the bones, muscles and joints. These other conditions include back problems, juvenile arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteopenia, osteoporosis (low bone density) and rheumatoid arthritis.

My Health Record: An online platform for storing a person’s health information, including their Medicare claims history, hospital discharge information, diagnostic imaging reports, and details of allergies and medications.


natural environment: A setting that includes all vegetation and animal species (including micro-organisms), habitats and landscapes on earth, but excludes aspects of the environment that result from human activities. The natural environment includes air, water and climate.

neoplasm: An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasm may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). Also called tumour.

nephron: The functional unit of the kidney that produces urine as it filters waste and excess substances from the blood.

neurology: A branch of medicine concerned especially with the structure, function and diseases of the nervous system.

never smoker: A person who does not smoke now and has smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes or the equivalent tobacco in his or her lifetime.

non-admitted patient: A patient who receives care from a recognised non-admitted patient service/clinic of a hospital, including emergency departments and outpatient clinics.

non-fatal burden: The quantified impact on a population of ill health due to disease or injury. Measured as years lived with disability (YLD).

non-hospital medical services: Medical services delivered to patients who are not admitted patients.

non-Indigenous: People who have not indicated that they are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent.

non-medical use: The use of drugs either alone or with other drugs to induce or enhance a drug experience for performance enhancement or cosmetic purposes (this includes pain-killers/ analgesics, tranquillisers/ sleeping pills, steroids and meth/ amphetamines and other opioids such as morphine or pethidine).

non-smoker: Never smoked or an ex-smoker.

normal weight: Defined as a body mass index of 18.5 to less than 25.

notifiable disease: A group of communicable diseases that are reported to state and territory health departments, as required by legislation. The information enables public health responses and the monitoring of disease activity.

nurse practitioner: A Registered Nurse with experience, expertise and authority to diagnose and treat people with a variety of acute or chronic health conditions.

nutrition: The intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs.


obesity: Marked degree of overweight, defined for population studies as a body mass index of 30 or over. See also overweight

obesogenic environment: A term used to describe the environment that promotes obesity among individuals and populations. It includes physical, economic, political and sociocultural factors

occupational disease (work-related disease): Employment or work-related diseases which are the result of repeated or long-term exposure to agent(s) or event(s) where there was a long latency period.

occupational exposures and hazards: Chemical, biological, psychosocial, physical and other factors in the workplace that can potentially cause harm.

occupational injury (work-related injury): Employment or work-related injuries which are the result of a traumatic event occurring where there was a short or no latency period. It includes injuries which are the result of a single exposure to an agent causing an acute toxic effect.

occupational lung diseases: Diseases that result from breathing in harmful dusts or fumes, such as silica, asbestos and coal dust. This exposure typically occurs in the workplace. Pneumoconiosis, or scarring of the lung tissue caused by inhaled dust, is one of the most common forms of occupational lung disease.

optometry: The practice of primary eye care, including testing for visual acuity and prescribing treatments for eye disorders.

oligoarthritis: Chronic inflammatory arthritis that typically occurs in the large joints, including knees, ankles and wrists. Typically the condition affects children aged 0 to 4, and is more common amongst females. Oligoarthritis is divided into either persistent or extended, based on the number of joints affected. Persistent oligoarthritis affects 1 to 4 joints, whilst extended oligoarthritis affects 5 or more joints after the initial 6-month period.

oral health: The health of the mouth, tongue and oral cavity; the absence of active disease in the mouth.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): An organisation of 38 countries, including Australia, that are mostly developed and some emerging (such as Mexico, Chile and Turkey). The organisation’s aim is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social wellbeing of people around the world.

osteoarthritis: A chronic and common form of arthritis, affecting mostly the spine, hips, knees and hands. It first appears from the age of about 30 and is more common and severe with increasing age.

osteopenia: A condition when bone mineral density is lower than normal but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis.

osteoporosis: A condition that causes bones to become thin, weak and fragile, such that even a minor bump or accident can break a bone.

Other Australians: People who have declared that they are not of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, and people whose Indigenous status is unknown. Compare with non-Indigenous.

other diabetes: A name for less common diabetes resulting from a range of different health conditions or circumstances.

other health practitioner services: Services that health practitioners (other than doctors and dentists) provide. These other practitioners include, but are not limited to, audiologists, chiropractors, dieticians, homeopaths, naturopaths, occupational therapists, optometrists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, practice nurses, practitioners of Chinese medicine and other forms of traditional medicine, and speech therapists.

other medications: Pharmaceuticals for which no Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) or Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) benefit was paid. They include:

  • pharmaceuticals listed in the PBS or RPBS, the total costs of which are equal to, or less than, the statutory patient contribution for the class of patient (under co-payment pharmaceuticals)
  • pharmaceuticals dispensed through private prescriptions that do not fulfil the criteria for payment of benefit under the PBS or RPBS
  • over-the-counter medications, including pharmacy-only medications, aspirin, cough and cold medicines, vitamins and minerals, herbal and other complementary medications, and various medical non-durables, such as condoms, adhesive and non-adhesive bandages.

otitis media: All forms of inflammation and infection of the middle ear. Active inflammation or infection is nearly always associated with a middle ear effusion (fluid in the middle ear space).

outcome (health outcome): A health-related change due to a preventive or clinical intervention or service. (The intervention may be single or multiple, and the outcome may relate to a person, group or population, or be partly or wholly due to the intervention.)

out-of-pocket costs/ expenditure: The total costs incurred by individuals for health care services over and above any refunds from the Medicare Benefits Schedule or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)/ Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS).

overnight hospitalisation: An admitted patient who received hospital treatment for a minimum of 1 night (that is, admitted to, and has a separation from, hospital on different dates).

overnight patient: An admitted patient who receives hospital treatment for a minimum of one night (that is, is admitted to, and has a separation from, hospital on different dates).

over-the-counter medicines data: Payments for non-prescription medications purchased in pharmacies.

overweight: Defined for the purpose of population studies as a body mass index of 25 or over. See also obesity

overweight but not obese: Defined for the purpose of population studies as a body mass index between 25 and less than 30.


palliative care: Treatment given primarily to control pain or other symptoms. Consequent benefits of the treatment are considered secondary contributions to quality of life.

pandemic: A new infectious disease that is rapidly spreading across a large region, or worldwide, and affecting large numbers of people. Such as a new influenza virus or COVID-19.

Pap test: See Papanicolaou smear (Pap smear)

Papanicolaou test (Pap smear test): A procedure to detect cancer and precancerous conditions of the female genital tract, whereby cells collected from the cervix are examined under a microscope to look for abnormalities (cytology).

pathology: A general term for the study of disease, but often used more specifically to describe diagnostic services that examine specimens, such as samples of blood or tissue.

patient days: The number of full or partial days of stay for patients who were admitted to hospital for an episode of care and who underwent separation during the reporting period. A patient who is admitted and separated on the same day is allocated 1 patient day.

patient-centred care: An approach to health care which places the patient at the centre of the care model, with an emphasis on collaboration between the patient and health-care providers when making decisions about their health and treatment approaches.

patient contribution: See co-payment

Patient Reported Experience Measures (PREMs): Used to obtain patients’ views and observations on aspects of health care services they have received. This includes their views on the accessibility and physical environment of services (for example, waiting times and the cleanliness of consultation rooms and waiting spaces) and aspects of the patient–clinician interaction (such as whether the clinician explained procedures clearly or responded to questions in a way that they could understand).

Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs): Used to obtain information from patients on their health status, usually using standardised and validated questionnaires. They measure aspects such as overall health and wellbeing (or ‘health-related quality of life’), the severity of symptoms such as pain, measures of daily functioning (activities required for self-care and to support social interactions) and psychological symptoms.

patient transport services: The services of organisations primarily engaged in transporting patients by ground or air – along with health (or medical) care. These services are often provided for a medical emergency but are not restricted to emergencies. The vehicles are equipped with lifesaving equipment operated by medically trained personnel.

peer worker: A person employed (or engaged via contract), either part time or full time, on the basis of their lived experience, to support others experiencing a similar situation.

perceived health status: A measure that reflects people’s overall perception of their health. Survey respondents are typically asked a question such as: “How is your health in general?”. Caution is required in making cross-country comparisons of perceived health status for at least 2 reasons. First, people’s assessment of their health is subjective and can be affected by cultural factors. Second, there are variations in the question-and-answer categories used to measure perceived health status across surveys and countries. The response scale used in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Chile is asymmetric (skewed on the positive side), including the following response categories: “excellent, very good, good, fair, poor”. In Israel, the scale is symmetric but there is no middle category related to “fair health”. Such differences in response categories bias upwards the results from those countries that are using an asymmetric scale or a symmetric scale but without any middle category.

peripheral vascular disease: A disease characterised by pain in the extremities, often the legs, due to an inadequate blood supply to them.

personal stressors: Events or conditions that occur in a person's life that may adversely impact on the individual's or their family's health or wellbeing.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS): A national, government-funded scheme that subsidises the cost of a wide range of pharmaceutical drugs for all Australians. The Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (schedule) lists all the medicinal products available under the PBS and explains the uses for which they can be subsidised.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) data collection: The PBS data collection contains information on prescription medicines that qualify for a benefit under the National Health Act 1953 and for which a claim has been processed. The database comprises information about PBS scripts and payments, patients, prescribers and dispensing pharmacies. PBS data is an administrative by-product of the Services Australia administration of the PBS Online system.

Pharmaceutical Reform Arrangements: Bilateral arrangements that support the access to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines in the public hospital setting for non-admitted, day-admitted or patients being discharged from hospitals, are in place between the Commonwealth and all jurisdictions except New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

pharmaceutical sales: Sales of pharmaceuticals on the domestic market, in total and by selected Anatomic Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) groups, based on retail prices (which means the final price paid by the customer).

pharmacotherapy: The treatment of disease and illnesses using pharmaceutical drugs.

physical activity: Any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. Physical activity includes sporting and leisure activities, as well as incidental activities done during work, for transport or household chores. See also Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

physical therapy: The treatment or management of physical disability, malfunction, or pain using therapeutic exercises, physical modalities such as massage and hydrotherapy, assistive devices, and patient education and training. Often referred to as physiotherapy.

physical violence: Behaviours that can include slaps, hits, punches, being pushed down stairs or across a room, choking and burns, as well as the use of knives, firearms and other weapons, or threats of such acts.

PM2.5: Atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that have a diameter of 2.5 micrometres (0.0025 millimetres) or less.

pneumoconiosis: A group of lung diseases caused by the lung's reaction inhaling certain dusts.

pneumonia: Inflammation of the lungs as a response to infection by bacteria or viruses. The air sacs become flooded with fluid, and inflammatory cells and affected areas of the lung become solid. Pneumonia is often quite rapid in onset and marked by a high fever, headache, cough, chest pain and shortness of breath.

polyarthritis: An inflammatory condition diagnosed if 5 or more joints are affected in the first 6 months of disease. Polyarthritis is divided into either rheumatoid factor (RF) negative or RF positive, based on pathology results. RF-positive is diagnosed if 2 or more rheumatoid factor pathology tests (taken at least 3 months apart) are positive. RF-negative is diagnosed if rheumatoid factor is not present in pathology results.

polyp: A small growth of colon tissue that protrudes into the colonic or rectal lumen. Polyps are usually asymptomatic, but sometimes cause visible rectal bleeding and, rarely, other symptoms. Most polyps are benign. Adenomatous polyps are more likely to become malignant than other types of polyps.

polypectomy: The removal of a polyp or adenoma.

population health: Typically, the organised response by society to protect and promote health, and to prevent illness, injury and disability. Population health activities generally focus on:

  • prevention, promotion and protection rather than on treatment
  • populations rather than on individuals
  • the factors and behaviours that cause illness.

It can also refer to the health of particular subpopulations, and comparisons of the health of different populations.

post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): The development of a set of reactions in people who have experienced a traumatic event that might have threatened their life or safety, or others around them. Examples of traumatic events can include war or torture, serious accidents, physical or sexual assault, or disasters. A person who has PTSD can experience feelings of helplessness, horror or intense fear.

potentially avoidable deaths: Deaths among people younger than age 75 that are avoidable in the context of the present health care system. They include deaths from conditions that are potentially preventable through individualised care and/or treatable through existing primary or hospital care. They are a subset of premature deaths. The rate of potentially avoidable deaths in Australia is used as an indicator of the health system’s effectiveness. Potentially avoidable deaths are classified using nationally agreed definitions. (A revised definition was adopted in the National Healthcare Agreement 2015 leading to differences in the counts and rates of potentially avoidable deaths published previously.).

potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPHs): Hospital separations for a specified range of conditions where hospitalisation is considered to be largely preventable if timely and adequate care had been provided through population health services, primary care and outpatient services. The PPH conditions are classified as vaccine preventable, chronic and acute. Respective examples include influenza and pneumonia, diabetes complications and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)and dental and kidney conditions. The rate of PPHs is currently being used as an indicator of the effectiveness of a large part of the health system, other than hospital inpatient treatment.

potential years of life lost (PYLL): A measure of premature mortality. It represents the total number of years not lived by an individual before a selected age limit (often 75 years).

practising doctors: Medically qualified physicians who provide services to patients. Does not include students who have not graduated, unemployed or retired doctors, those working outside the country, dentists, stomatologists, dental or maxillofacial surgeons.

practising nurses: Professional nurses enrolled to practice in a particular country. Excludes those who are students, those who are unemployed retired or no longer practicing, and midwives unless they work most of the time as nurses.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP): An anti-retroviral treatment taken daily to prevent HIV infection in people who do not have HIV but are at medium or high risk of being infected.

premature deaths (or premature mortality): Deaths that occur at a younger age than a selected cut-off. The age below which deaths are considered premature can vary depending on the purpose of the analysis and the population under investigation. Often deaths among people aged under 75 are considered premature.

prescription pharmaceuticals: Pharmaceutical drugs available only on the prescription of a registered medical or dental practitioner and available only from pharmacies.

prescription: An authorisation issued by a medical profession for a patient to be issued a particular medication. For dementia-specific medications, typically a prescription (script) authorises a person to receive one month’s supply of medication.

prevalence: The number or proportion (of cases, instances, and so forth) in a population at a given time. For example, in relation to cancer, refers to the number of people alive who had been diagnosed with cancer in a prescribed period (usually 1, 5, 10 or 26 years). Compare with incidence.

prevention (of ill health or injury): Action to reduce or eliminate the onset, causes, complications or recurrence of ill health or injury.

primary care: The first point of contact an individual has with the health system and relates to the treatment of non-admitted patients in the community. A subset of primary health care.

primary carer: A primary carer is the carer who provided the most informal, ongoing assistance for a person with a disability. In the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, for a person to be considered a primary carer they must be aged 15 or over and assist with 1 or more core activity tasks (mobility, self-care or communication). Their assistance must be ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least 6 months. In this report, the primary carer had to be living in the same household as their care recipient.

primary health care: These are services delivered in many community settings, such as general practices, community health centres, Aboriginal health services and allied health practices (for example, physiotherapy, dietetic and chiropractic practices) and come under numerous funding arrangements. Expenditure on primary health care includes recurrent expenditure on health goods and services, such as on medical services, dental services, other health practitioner services, pharmaceuticals and community and public health services.

Primary Health Network: Primary Health Networks were established on 1 July 2015. These networks are intended to play a critical role in connecting health services across local communities so that patients, particularly those needing coordinated care, have the best access to a range of health care providers, including practitioners, community health services and hospitals. Primary health networks work directly with general practitioners, other primary care providers, secondary care providers and hospitals.

principal diagnosis: The diagnosis established after study to be chiefly responsible for occasioning an episode of patient care (hospitalisation), an episode of residential care or an attendance at the health care establishment. Diagnoses are recorded using the relevant edition of the International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision, Australian modification (ICD-10-AM).

principal drug of concern: The main substance that led the client to seek treatment from an alcohol and drug treatment agency.

prisoner: Adult prisoners (aged 18 and over) held in custody whose confinement is the responsibility of a correctional services agency. Includes sentenced prisoners and prisoners held in custody awaiting trial or sentencing (remandees). Does not include youth offenders, persons in psychiatric custody, police cell detainees, those in periodic detention, asylum seekers or Australians held in overseas prisons.

private hospital: A privately owned and operated institution, catering for patients who are treated by a doctor of their own choice. Patients are charged fees for accommodation and other services provided by the hospital and by relevant medical and allied health practitioners. The term includes acute care and psychiatric hospitals as well as private freestanding day hospital facilities.

private patient: A person admitted to a private hospital, or a person admitted to a public hospital who decides to choose the doctor(s) who will treat them or to have private ward accommodation – this means they will be charged for medical services, food and accommodation.

private prescriptions data: Payments for prescriptions for which no benefit is payable are estimated using the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and historical data.

procedure: A clinical intervention that is surgical in nature, carries a procedural risk, carries an anaesthetic risk, and requires specialist training and/or special facilities or equipment available only in the acute-care setting.

prognosis: The likely outcome of an illness.

protective factors: Factors that enhance the likelihood of positive outcomes and lessen the chance of negative consequences from exposure to risk.

psoriasis: An immune-mediated disease that causes raised, scaly patches on the skin due to systemic inflammation.

psoriatic arthritis: A chronic and auto-immune form of arthritis that causes joint inflammation and swelling in people with psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis is also diagnosed if there is arthritis and psoriasis, or arthritis and at least 2 of the following:

  • dactylitis
  • nail pitting
  • onycholysis
  • family history of psoriasis.

psychological abuse: Behaviours that include limiting access to finances, preventing the victim from contacting family and friends, demeaning and humiliating the victim, and any threats of injury or death directed at the victim or their children.

psychological distress: Unpleasant feelings or emotions that affect a person’s level of functioning and interfere with the activities of daily living. This distress can result in having negative views of the environment, others and oneself, and manifest as symptoms of mental illness, including anxiety and depression (see also Kessler Psychological Distress Scale – 10 items).

psychosocial: Involving both psychological and social factors.

psychotic disorders: ‘A diverse group of illnesses that have their origins in abnormal brain function and are characterised by fundamental distortions of thinking, perception and emotional response.’ (Slade et al. 2009).

public health: Activities aimed at benefiting a population, with an emphasis on prevention, protection and health promotion as distinct from treatment tailored to individuals with symptoms. Examples include the conduct of anti-smoking education campaigns, and screening for diseases such as cancer of the breast and cervix. See also population health

public hospital: A hospital controlled by a state or territory health authority. In Australia, public hospitals offer free diagnostic services, treatment, care and accommodation to all eligible patients.

public hospital services expenditure: Services provided by public hospitals from the balance of public hospital expenditure remaining after costs of community health services, public health services, non-admitted dental services, patient transport services, and health research activities conducted by public hospitals have been removed and reallocated to their own expenditure categories.

public patients: Patients who are admitted to hospital at no charge and are mostly funded through public sector health or hospital service budgets.

pulmonary embolism (PE): A blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the lungs caused by one or more blood clots. A blood clot can form in the veins of the legs, pelvis, abdomen (tummy) or in the heart. The clot can then dislodge from where it first forms and travel in the blood stream to lodge in one of the pulmonary arteries, the arteries that send blood to the lungs.


quality: The degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge.

quintile: A group derived by ranking the population or area according to specified criteria and dividing it into 5 equal parts. The term can also mean the cut-points that make these divisions – that is, the 20th, 40th, 60th and 80th percentiles – but the first use is the more common one. Commonly used to describe socioeconomic areas based on socioeconomic position.


rate: One number (numerator) divided by another number (denominator). The numerator is commonly the number of events in a specified time. The denominator is the population ‘at risk’ of the event. Rates (crude, age-specific and age-standardised) are generally multiplied by a number such as 100,000 to create whole numbers. In some instances, for example with prescription volumes or expenditure amounts in magnitude, a multiplier of 100 is used to aid comprehension.

Reactive arthritis: A type of arthritis that develops in response to certain types of bacterial infection.

recent user (alcohol and other drugs): Someone who has used in the last 12 months.

recommended guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption: A balanced diet, including sufficient fruit and vegetables, reduces a person's risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. The National Health and Medical Research Council's 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend a minimum number of serves of fruit and vegetables each day, depending on a person's age and sex, to ensure good nutrition and health. See also Australian Dietary Guidelines

recurrent expenditure: Spending (expenditure) on goods and services that are used during the year (for example, salaries). Compare with capital expenditure.

recurrent spending: Spending on health goods and services that are consumed within a year, and that does not result in the creation or acquisition of fixed assets.

referred medical services: Non-hospital medical services that are not classified as primary health care. See also unreferred medical service

relative risk: This measure is derived by comparing two groups for their likelihood of an event. It is also called the risk ratio because it is the ratio of the risk in the ‘exposed’ population divided by the risk in the ‘unexposed’ population. It is also known as the rate ratio.

relative standard error: The standard error (SE) is a measure of the dispersion of estimates calculated from all possible random samples from the same population. This can be estimated using the achieved single sample. The relative standard error (RSE) is the SE expressed as a percentage of the estimate and provides an indication of the size of the SE relative to the size of the estimate.

relative survival (cancer): A measure of the average survival experience of a population of people diagnosed with cancer, relative to the ‘average’ Australian of the same sex and age, at a specified interval after diagnosis.

remoteness areas: These regions are defined by the Australian Statistical Geographical Standard (ASGS) and based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia which uses the road distance to goods and services (such as general practitioners, hospitals and specialist care) to measure relative accessibility of regions around Australia. See remoteness classification

remoteness classification: Each state and territory is divided into 5 classes of remoteness based on their relative accessibility to goods and services (such as to general practitioners, hospitals and specialist care) as measured by road distance. These regions are based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia and defined as Remoteness Areas by the Australian Statistical Geographical Standard (ASGS) (from 2011 onwards) in each Census year. The 5 Remoteness Areas are:

  • Major cities
  • Inner regional
  • Outer regional
  • Remote
  • Very remote.

See also rural

renal disease: A general term for when the kidneys are damaged and do not function as they should.

Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS): An Australian Government scheme that provides a range of pharmaceuticals and wound dressings at a concessional rate for the treatment of eligible veterans, war widows/ widowers, and their dependants.

residential long-term care facilities: Establishments primarily engaged in providing residential long-term care that combines nursing, supervisory or other types of care as required by the residents. In these establishments, a significant part of the production process and the care provided is a mix of health and social services, with the health services being largely at the level of nursing care, in combination with personal care services. The medical components of care are, however, much less intensive than those provided in hospitals.

respiratory condition: A chronic respiratory condition affecting the airways and characterised by symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and cough. Conditions include asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

respiratory disease group: Includes asthma, COPD, sarcoidosis (with lung involvement), interstitial lung disease (ILD), pneumoconiosis (asbestosis, silicosis, and other pneumoconiosis), upper respiratory conditions (mainly allergic rhinitis – also known as hay fever) and other respiratory diseases (including bronchiectasis and respiratory disease due to inhalation of chemicals, gases, fumes, and vapours).

restraint: The restriction of an individual's freedom of movement by physical or mechanical means.

restraint (mechanical): The application of devices (including belts, harnesses, manacles, sheets and straps) on a person's body to restrict his or her movement. This is to prevent the person from harming himself/ herself or endangering others or to ensure the provision of essential medical treatment. It does not include the use of furniture (including beds with cot sides and chairs with tables fitted on their arms) that restricts the person's capacity to get off the furniture except where the devices are used solely for the purpose of restraining a person's freedom of movement.

The use of a medical or surgical appliance for the proper treatment of physical disorder or injury is not considered mechanical restraint.

restraint (physical): The application by health care staff of ‘hands-on’ immobilisation or the physical restriction of a person to prevent the person from harming himself/herself or endangering others or to ensure the provision of essential medical treatment.

Rheumatic diseases: A type of arthritis that develops in response to certain types of bacterial infection.

rheumatoid arthritis: A chronic, multisystem disease whose most prominent feature is joint inflammation and resulting damage, most often affecting the hand joints in symmetrical fashion. It can occur in all age groups but most commonly appears between ages 20–40. Its causes are not certain but involve auto-immune processes.

rheumatoid factor (RF or RhF): An abnormal autoantibody in the blood that can act against one of a person’s other antibody types (IgG). Rheumatoid factor is commonly present in people with rheumatoid arthritis; hence it is termed seropositive arthritis. It is strongly associated with HLA DR4.

risk: The probability of an event’s occurring during a specified period of time.

risk factors: Any factor that represents a greater risk of a health disorder or other unwanted condition or event. Some risk factors are regarded as causes of disease; others are not necessarily so. Along with their opposites (protective factors), risk factors are known as determinants.

rural: Geographic areas outside urban areas such as towns and cities. In this report, ‘rural and remote’ encompasses all areas outside Australia’s Major cities according to the remoteness classification of the Australian Statistical Geographic Standard (ASGS). In many instances, the term ‘rural and remote’ is used interchangeably with the classification terms ‘regional and remote’.


sacroiliac: The joint between the spine and pelvis.

Sacroiliitis: Inflammation of the sacroiliac.

safety: The avoidance or reduction to acceptable limits of actual or potential harm from health care management or the environment in which health care is delivered.

safety and quality standards: A set of statements which describe the level of care consumers can expect from a health service. They aim to protect the public from harm and improve the quality of care provided.

same-day hospitalisation: A patient who is admitted to, and has a separation from, hospital on the same date.

same-day patient: A patient who is admitted to, and has a separation from, hospital on the same date.

sarcoidosis: An inflammatory disease in which granulomas, or clumps of inflammatory cells, form in various organs. This causes organ inflammation.

screen time: Activities done in front of a screen, such as watching television, working on a computer, or playing video games.

screening (for health): A systematic method of detecting risk factors or suspicious abnormalities among people who are symptom free, so that health problems can be either prevented or followed up, diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Screening is usually done through special programs aimed at higher risk groups in the population. A variant of screening, often known as case-finding, is where clinicians opportunistically look for risk factors or abnormalities in people when seeing them for other reasons; for example, when many doctors routinely measure blood pressure in all patients consulting them.

seclusion: The confinement of the consumer at any time of the day or night alone in a room or area from which free exit is prevented.

Key elements include that:

  1. The consumer is alone.
  2. The seclusion applies at any time of the day or night.
  3. Duration is not relevant in determining what is or is not seclusion.
  4. The consumer cannot leave of their own accord.

The intended purpose of the confinement is not relevant in determining what is or is not seclusion. Seclusion applies even if the consumer agrees or requests the confinement.

The awareness of the consumer that they are confined alone and denied exit is not relevant in determining what is or is not seclusion. The structure and dimensions of the area to which the consumer is confined is not relevant in determining what is or is not seclusion. The area may be an open area, for example, a courtyard. Seclusion does not include confinement of consumers to High Dependency sections of gazetted mental health units unless it meets the definition.

sedentary activities: Activities that involve sitting or lying down and require very little energy expenditure. Sedentary activities can occur at work (for example, sitting at a desk), in the home (for example, watching television, reading or playing video games) and during transport (for example, sitting in the car or on the bus). See also Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

self-assessed health status: Self-assessed health status is a commonly used measure of overall health which reflects a person's perception of his or her own health at a given point in time.

self-regulated: Where a health professionals accreditation process is managed by the professional association for that profession, rather than under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) for health practitioners.

separation (from hospital): The formal process where a hospital records the completion of an episode of treatment and/or care for an admitted patient – in this report, described by the term hospitalisation.

sequelae: Health consequences of diseases and injuries, such as heart failure due to coronary heart disease. Each sequela may be mapped to one or more health states.

service contact (community mental health care): The provision of a clinically significant service by a specialised mental health service provider for patient/clients, other than those admitted to psychiatric hospitals or designated psychiatric units in acute care hospitals and those resident in 24‑hour staffed specialised residential mental health services, where the nature of the service would normally warrant a dated entry in the clinical record of the patient/client in question. Any one patient can have one or more service contacts over the relevant financial year period. Service contacts are not restricted to face‑to‑face communication but can include telephone, video link or other forms of direct communication. Service contacts can also be either with the patient or with a third party, such as a carer or family member, and/or other professional or mental health worker, or other service provider.

severe or profound core activity limitation: The limitation of a person who needs help or supervision always (profound) or sometimes (severe) to perform activities that most people undertake at least daily – that is, the core activities of self-care, mobility and/or communication. See also core activity limitation and disability

Sex: A person’s sex is based upon their sex characteristics, such as their chromosomes, hormones and reproductive organs. While typically based upon the sex characteristics observed and recorded at birth or infancy, a person’s sex can change over the course of their lifetime and may differ from their sex recorded at birth.

sexual assault: A sexual act carried out against a person’s will through the use of physical force, intimidation or coercion. Includes rape, attempted rape, aggravated sexual assault (assault with a weapon), indecent assault, and penetration by objects, forced sexual activity that did not end in penetration and attempts to force a person into sexual activity. These acts are an offence under state and territory criminal law.

sexual harassment: Behaviours a person experienced that made them feel uncomfortable, and were offensive, due to their sexual nature. This includes:

  • an indecent text, email or post
  • indecent exposure
  • inappropriate comments
  • unwanted sexual touching.

sexually transmissible infection: An infectious disease that can be passed from one person to another by sexual contact. Examples include chlamydia and gonorrhoea infections.

sexual violence: The occurrence, attempt or threat of sexual assault experienced by a person since the age of 15. Sexual violence can be perpetrated by partners in a domestic relationship, previous partners, other people known to the victim, or strangers.

significant: Data are described as significant where statistical significance has been determined for results. Statistical significance is determined by the mean and standard deviation of the data sample. This indicates the result is due to a factor of interest rather than chance or other confounding variables.

silicosis: Scarring of the lungs caused by inhaling unsafe levels of silica dust, usually over a period of many years.

single-occasion risk (alcohol): A single occasion is defined as a sequence of drinks taken without the blood alcohol concentration reaching zero in between. The risk of an alcohol-related injury arising from a single occasion of drinking increases with the amount consumed. See also Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol.

skeletal muscles: The most common type of muscle in the body, skeletal muscles are attached to bones by tendons, produce the movement of all body parts in relation to each other and can be voluntarily controlled.

smoker: Someone who reports smoking daily, weekly or less than weekly.

smoker status: Smoker status refers to the frequency of smoking of tobacco, including manufactured (packet) cigarettes, roll-your-own cigarettes, cigars and pipes, but excluding chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes (and similar) and smoking of non-tobacco products.

Respondents to the National Health Survey were asked to describe smoking status at the time of interview, categorised as:

  • daily smoker: A respondent who reported at the time of interview that they regularly smoked one or more cigarettes, cigars or pipes per day
  • ex–smoker: A respondent who reported that they did not currently smoke, but had regularly smoked daily, or had smoked at least 100 cigarettes, or smoked pipes, cigars, etcetera at least 20 times in their lifetime
  • never smoked: A respondent who reported they had never regularly smoked daily and had smoked less than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and had smoked pipes, cigars, etc. less than 20 times.

The 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey uses the following smoking definitions:

  • current smoker: Reported smoking daily, weekly or less than weekly at the time of the survey.
  • daily smoker: Reported smoking tobacco at least once a day (includes manufactured (packet) cigarettes, roll-your-own cigarettes, cigars or pipes). Excludes chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes (and similar) and smoking of non-tobacco products.
  • ex-smoker: A person who has smoked at least 100 cigarettes or equivalent tobacco in his or her lifetime but does not smoke at all now.
  • never smoker: A person who does not smoke now and has smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes or the equivalent tobacco in his or her lifetime.
  • non-smoker: Never smoked or an ex-smoker.

social capital: The institutions, relationships, voluntary activity, and communications that shape the quality and quantity of social interaction within a community.

social determinants of health: The circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, and the systems put in place to deal with illness. These circumstances are in turn shaped by a wider set of forces: economics, social policies and politics.

social exclusion: Where people do not have the resources, opportunities and capabilities they need to learn, work, engage with or have a voice in their communities. Composite measures of social exclusion weight indicators such as income level, access to education, unemployment, poor English, health services and transport, and non-material aspects such as stigma and denial of rights. These measures are typically divided into 3 levels: marginal exclusion, deep exclusion and very deep exclusion.

socioeconomic areas: Based on the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage, part of the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) created from Census data, which aims to represent the socioeconomic position of Australian communities and reflect the overall or average level of disadvantage of the population in an area.

Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA): A set of indexes, created from Census data, that aim to represent the socioeconomic position of Australian communities and identify areas of advantage and disadvantage. The index value reflects the overall or average level of disadvantage of the population of an area; it does not show how individuals living in the same area differ from each other in their socioeconomic group.

socioeconomic position: An indication of how ‘well off’ a person or group is. Socioeconomic position is often reported using the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas, typically for 5 groups (quintiles) – from the most disadvantaged (worst off or lowest socioeconomic area) to the least disadvantaged (best off or highest socioeconomic area).

solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation: High-energy rays from the sun which are invisible to the human eye. UV radiation is divided into 3 types according to wavelength (UVA, UVB and UVC). UVA, and to a lesser extent UVB, are not wholly absorbed by atmospheric ozone and therefore are of interest for human health.

specialist attendance: A specialist attendance usually requires a referral from a general practitioner. A specialist attendance is a referred patient-doctor encounter (with Medicare funding benefits), such as a visit, consultation and attendance (including a video conference) with a medical practitioner who has been recognised as a specialist or consultant physician for the purposes of Medicare benefits. See also Medicare

specialist services: Services that support people with specific or complex health conditions and issues, who are generally referred by primary health care providers. They are often described as ‘secondary’ health care services. In many cases, a formal referral is required for an individual to be able to access the recommended specialist service.

specialists: fully-qualified physicians who have specialised and work primarily in areas other than general practice. Physicians in training are normally excluded.

stage (cancer): The extent of a cancer in the body. Staging is usually based on the size of the tumour, whether lymph nodes contain cancer, and whether the cancer has spread from the original site to other parts of the body.

standard drink (alcohol): A serve that contains 10 grams of alcohol (equivalent to 12.5 millilitres of alcohol). It is also referred to as a full serve.

statistical significance: A statistical measure indicating how likely the observed difference or association is due to chance alone. Rate differences are deemed to be statistically significant when their confidence intervals do not overlap, since their difference is greater than what could be explained by chance.

strength based activities: Activities that are focused on improving power, strength and size of skeletal muscles (for example, push-ups and pull-ups)

stroke: An event that occurs when an artery supplying blood to the brain suddenly becomes blocked or bleeds. A stroke often causes paralysis of parts of the body normally controlled by that area of the brain, or speech problems and other symptoms. It is a major form of cerebrovascular disease.

substance misuse: Use of illicit drugs (illegal drugs, drugs and volatile substances used illicitly, and pharmaceuticals used for non-medical purposes).

substance use disorder: A disorder of harmful use and/or dependence on illicit or licit drugs, including alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs.

symptom: Any evidence of disease apparent to the patient.

syphilis (infectious): A sexually transmitted infection, which if untreated can cause irreversible damage. It is caused by Treponema pallidum bacteria. It is a notifiable disease.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): An autoimmune disease that can affect many body systems.

Systemic-onset: Arthritis with or preceded by daily fever for at least 2 weeks, with one or more of the following:

  • rash
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • enlarged liver or spleen
  • inflammation of serous tissues.


telehealth: Health services delivered using information and communication technologies, such as videoconferencing or through other communication technologies.

telemedicine: The remote delivery of health care services, such as health assessments or consultations, over the telecommunications infrastructure.

thunderstorm asthma: The triggering of an asthma attack by environmental conditions directly caused by a local thunderstorm.

total burden: The sum of fatal burden (YLL) and non-fatal burden (YLD). See burden of disease (and injury)

trachoma: An infectious disease of the eye caused by Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. If left untreated, follicles (small groups of cells) form on the upper eyelids and grow larger until they invade the cornea, eventually causing blindness.

treatment episode: The period of contact between a client and a treatment provider or a team of providers. In the context of alcohol and other drug treatment, each treatment episode has 1 principal drug of concern and 1 main treatment type. If the principal drug or main treatment changes, a new episode is recorded.

treatment type: In the context of alcohol and other drug treatment, the type of activity that is used to treat the client’s alcohol or other drug problem. Examples include assessment only, counselling, information and education only, pharmacotherapy, rehabilitation, support and case management only, and withdrawal management (detoxification).

triage category: A category used in the emergency departments of hospitals to indicate the urgency of a patient’s need for medical and nursing care. Patients are triaged into 1 of 5 categories on the Australasian Triage Scale. The triage category is allocated by an experienced registered nurse or medical practitioner.

triglyceride: A compound made up of a single molecule of glycerol and 3 molecules of fatty acid. Triglycerides are the main constituents of natural fats and oils.

tumour: An abnormal growth of tissue. Can be benign (not a cancer) or malignant (a cancer).

type 1 diabetes: A form of diabetes mostly arising among children or younger adults (but can be diagnosed at any age) and marked by a complete lack of insulin. Insulin replacement is needed for survival. It is a lifelong disease, for which the exact cause is unknown, but believed to be the result of an interaction of genetic and environmental factors. See diabetes (diabetes mellitus)

type 2 diabetes: The most common form of diabetes, is a condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas. The condition has strong genetic and family-related (non-modifiable) risk factors and is also often associated with modifiable risk factors See diabetes (diabetes mellitus)


ultrasound: Diagnostic method based on the reflection of ultrasonic sound waves generated through scanning of, in this case, the breast. The reflections are viewed on a computer screen or photograph and checked for variations in images.

ultraviolet (UV) radiation: Is part of the electromagnetic spectrum emitted by the sun. It has major importance to human health, particularly in relation to vitamin D production, the functioning of the immune system, and the formation of skin cancers and cataracts.

uncontrolled high blood pressure: Measured systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or more, or diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or more, regardless of whether they were taking blood pressure medication.

underlying cause of death: The disease or injury that initiated the train of events leading directly to death, or the circumstances of the accident or violence that produced the fatal injury. See also cause of death and associated cause(s) of death

underweight: A category defined for population studies as a body mass index (BMI) less than 18.5.

undifferentiated arthritis: An inflammatory form of arthritis involving joint swelling, pain, and stiffness. Typically, undifferentiated arthritis is diagnosed if there is arthritis that does not fulfil criteria for the other 6 juvenile arthritis sub-types, or that fulfils criteria for 2 or more sub-types.

unreferred medical service: A medical service provided to a person by, or under the supervision of, a medical practitioner – being a service that has not been referred to that practitioner by another medical practitioner or person with referring rights. In this report, these are medical services that are classified as primary health care (see unstable angina: A form of angina that is more dangerous than normal angina but less so than a heart attack. It can feature chest pain that occurs at rest; and in someone who already has angina it can be marked by new patterns of onset with exertion or by pain that comes on more easily, more often or for longer than previously).

urea: The waste produced when the body metabolises protein. It is excreted by the kidneys in urine.

Uveitis: An umbrella term used for a group of conditions that cause inflammation in the eye. It is typically caused by an autoimmune response, but it can also be due to an infection.


vaccination: The process of administering a vaccine to a person to produce immunity against infection. See immunisation

vaccine: A substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases. It is prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, and treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease.

Vasculitis: Inflammation of the blood vessels.

vector-borne diseases: Diseases that are spread between humans or animals by a vector such as mosquitoes.

vigorous physical activity: Physical activity at a level that causes the heart to beat a lot faster and shortness of breath that makes talking difficult between deep breaths.

virus: An infective agent that typically consists of a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat, is too small to be seen by light microscopy, and can multiply only within the living cells of a host.


walkability: A measure of how conducive an area is to walking.

wellbeing: A state of health, happiness and contentment. It can also be described as judging life positively and feeling good. For public health purposes, physical wellbeing (for example, feeling very healthy and full of energy) is also viewed as critical to overall wellbeing. Because wellbeing is subjective, it is typically measured with self-reports, but objective indicators (such as household income, unemployment levels and neighbourhood crime) can also be used.

workforce: People who are employed or unemployed (not employed but actively looking for work). Also known as the labour force.


years lived with disability (YLD): A measure of the years spent in less than full health due to living with disease or injury. YLD represent non-fatal burden.

years of life lost (YLL): A measure of the years of life lost due to premature death, defined as dying before the ideal life span. YLL represent fatal burden.

younger onset dementia: Dementia that develops in people aged under 65.